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A Complete Guide to a Career In Product Management

Last updated:
5th Jul, 2018
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A Complete Guide to a Career In Product Management

Today, the tech sector is booming exponentially. Companies all across the globe are rapidly shifting the focus from profit maximization towards innovation and customer satisfaction. It is all about delivering products that can attract the attention of the smart consumers of the digital age. And in the past few years, this shift has brought product management into the limelight. Leading brands are now exploiting the realms of product management to discover innovative ways to both build and sell trailblazing products and services. Hence, they are always on the lookout for talented PMs or Product Managers.

If you are wondering, “How do I start my career in Product Management?” and “Is it the right career option for me?” – then let us break the good news to you! To kickstart a career in product management, you don’t need to have a technical background. In fact, the two fundamental requirements of building a career in product management are – passion and motivation.

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  1. Read Up!

The first step to beginning your career in product management is to understand what it is all about. You must be well-versed with the concepts of product management before you dive right in. Books like The Design of Everyday Things, The Innovator’s Dilemma, and How to Create Products Customers Love will walk you through all the basic concepts of the field. You can also follow blogs of Marty Cagan and Ken Norton. Furthermore, following platforms like TechCrunch and ProductHunt will help you stay updated with all the latest happenings of the tech and product world.

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  1. Develop A Product Mindset

When you are in the field of product management, it is crucial to develop a product mindset. It begins with the everyday products that you use. Start by asking yourself questions like:
“What is my favourite product?”
“How does it create value for me?”
“What are the most beneficial aspects of the product?”
“Is there a scope of improvement? If so, what?”

As you begin to ask yourself these four questions on a daily basis, you’ll see that your views about products are slowly transforming. You are no longer merely using a product, but you’re looking within it to find how it is creating value for the end consumer (you) and how it can be improved.

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Career In Product Management

  1. Create Something

Once you are well-versed with the essentials of product management, it is time you showcase your talent in the field by developing something – your own creation. Getting your hands dirty is necessary to hone your product development skills and what better than real projects to prove that! And thanks to the Internet, you can now access an entire pool of product development tools to help bring your ideas to life.  

When you create something, it is essential that you do not focus on the end goal of reaching customers, but rather on the ‘development’ process. The moment you start doing this, you’ll notice that with every try, your creations keep getting better.
5 Challenges for a Newly Recruited Product Manager

  1. Collaborate With The Makers

A great product manager is someone who knows how to inspire. Product development is primarily a project for the entire team, that is developers, designers, and managers. As a product manager, you must know how to communicate well with the creative department. Engage in fruitful conversations with the designers and developers in your team and encourage them to share their ideas with the entire team. As everyone puts forth their unique insights on the table, it fosters a brainstorm session where you along with your team can come up with innovative solutions to business problems. So, make it a point to spend some time with your creative team and understand their products.

Top Management Skills to Learn

  1. Learn The Skill of ‘People Management’

Product management is an amalgamation of technology, business, and people (team and customers). As we mentioned in the previous point, you have to work in close collaboration with the creative team. You are the manager, and hence, it is your responsibility to organize, supervise, and prioritize the tasks that need to be accomplished by the team. Thus, it is important to develop a bond with your team. Every person is different. Take your time to understand the people in your team and learn to communicate with them in ways they would understand. To be precise, you must learn how to manage people.

Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek and How to win friends and influence people in the digital age by Dale Carnegie are good books to help you develop people skills.
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To become a great product manager, you need to demonstrate qualities of leadership, for it is you who’ll guide your team towards the path of success.

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Chetan I

Blog Author
Chetan is a Brand Manager at UpGrad. He holds an MBA from IIM Ranchi and comes with over 3 years of rich marketing experience in the field of Brand strategy, Market research, Content marking, Creative development ( ATL/ BTL). His skills like in intersecting Marketing, product & technology to enable growth for brands.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1Is product management a good job after MBA?

Product management is one of the most sought-after roles in corporate India today, and is certainly one of the best choices of career after an MBA. This is particularly due to the fact that almost every organisation in India is digitizing its products and internal processes to achieve efficiency and speed in every possible function, from customer acquisition to managing transactions. At large organisations, a product manager is often considered to be a mini CEO because they are completely responsible for creating the vision of the product as well as drive it in the market as per varying customer behaviour inline with the organisation’s core objectives.

2Is it possible for engineers to become product managers?

It is certainly possible for engineers to become product managers. Engineers have much needed skills such as logical thinking, analytical approach to problem solving and an understanding of technology which is crucial for a product management role. Product managers are also expected to coordinate various large projects such as development & roll-out of new products into the market in collaboration with cross-functional teams adhering to a pre-agreed upon plan and timelines, and engineers possess the required skills for this. Engineers are also excellent with numbers and can therefore be very good at analysing data from various functions. However, recruiters prefer engineers to have at least 5-7 years of work experience or an MBA degree for product management roles.

3How much do product management courses cost?

It depends on where you are planning to pursue the course. These days, plenty of international universities have short programs upto 12 weeks that aim at training experienced professionals who only require to upgrade their skills in various tools required for product management. These courses are often expensive. However, for graduates with lesser experience and who would prefer a more holistic training, there are plenty of part-time online courses offered by Indian ed-tech companies, in accreditation with international universities. These courses are available at affordable prices starting from as low as INR 1.5 lakhs.